The scariest moment is always just before you start…

So, I have sat up nights upon nights with fear and confusion gnawing at my middle and running rampant through my mind. I have mused, considered, examined and dropped countless fruitful and futile ideas. I have cried. I have decided. I have been disappointed and frustrated at the results of those decisions. I have felt as if I could make no choices without the most sincere counsel from my own college of specialists. I have whinged, wailed, whimpered and whined. I have pondered in silence. I have escaped in novels and in the garden. I have rung my mother. I have now come to face the facts, I have reached a state of contented bliss and well-being which can only arise from  a correct decision well made. I have chosen penmanship.

In truth, I began work on a series of fantasy novels when I was around fifteen, and have been fiddling and compiling, map-drawing and plot-forming in those odd snatches of time between degrees. But I have never had the time, or possibly the desire, to devote a specific stretch of time to my keyboard. With one Masters off the table, and the other temporarily financially inexpedient, I am in limbo. The risk to my health and passable security is too great to consider jumping to full-time, or even part-time, work. So I am stuck, for the next sixteenth months or so, in a sort of achievement-less, purposeless, void of soulless, mind-numbing inanity. Bliss, to most people apparently, though I would challenge anyone to enjoy two years with no job, no people, no money, no T.V. and horrendous ill-health. So, I have taken a cognitive prayer, an emotional deep-breath, and decided to devote the next twelve months to writing something publishable.

Though of course, I sit down to write my novel #DayOne and find that my USB stick (containing my entire fantasy database of the past decade) is noticeably absent. So after re-drafting my map…


… I have no place to go until I recover the data. But no fear! It seemed pointless angsting over something that will inevitably emerge in a peculiar place, so instead I have decided to expand my ‘Homer’s Odyssey: Astronomical Epic‘ thesis (sitting pretty at 15,000 words circa 19th April) into a book which I will attempt to publish. ‘Tisn’t fantasy, mind you, but it IS certainly comprehensively publishable. And I so love writing it. There is nothing better than the electric cerebral rush that comes with making a new discovery. It hardly matters that the genre is so obscure that nobody will understand it if I told them, what matters is that I know it is there, and that the universe (well, the Archaic Grecian Universe, at least) has been made just a little bit tidier.

So I have sat, and typed, and read, and highighted, and printed, drunk copious amounts of tea, and sung. Loudly. I am now the proud owner of five chapters from the second section of my proposed masterpiece, and the mother of 21,038 words of intellectual obscurity, I think wonder may largely depend on your point of view as a reader. The fact is though, my backside aches, my spine feels twisted, and my shoulders feel as if they have rolled over onto my breasts, I am so content. I feel productive, I feel useful. I can barely stand to leave my desk, and get piqued when someone has the audacity to phone or text me. Five days ago I was so dreadfully alone, so woefully bored, and so terribly depressed. But now, my artificial pen has hit the cyber paper and I am free.

If YOU want to contribute to my novels, then fill in this single question questionnaire to choose the names for the nomad tribes of Saäg who forever wander the desert of Jotnar-Feldur:

2 thoughts on “The scariest moment is always just before you start…

  1. Adrian Bankhead

    I just want to tell you that I am always excited to see each of your posts, and I stop everything that I am doing to read them (just as Ive stopped right now in the middle of the subway station to read your post and respond). I think that you are a brilliant researcher and a wonderful guide into these wonderful, ancient texts. I am no scholar of these ancient world – I had only just started to read prof Nagy’s (wonderful) translation of the Illiad when I discovered your discussion of the odessey and astro theology (I was curious about a request request you made in a classics email group) and it was as if you conjured a light that illuminated that distant cave of forgotten dreams. Since then, I have read everything that you have posted, and your insights have deepened my reading of manilius’ astronomica, as I expect it will the metamorphosis and (lest I forget!) the odessey. Safari, you – like Peter brown and Carlos Eire for a later era, are my teacher about the ancient world. I am your student. If you were to write a novel, I would be excited to read it! And so please don’t forget that these texts you write enter the world and take on a life of their own. They travel far away to distant lands (in this case, Berkeley, CA) and affect people’s lives whom you’ll likely never meet or know, but who are waiting to read everything you have to say. And so I just want to say thank you for your research and writing, for your meditation on that immense “commonwealth of stars”. I can attest from personal experience that the ancient neoplatonists were correct – your soul has grown wings because of the songs you sing to and for and about the universe. And so please, safari, never stop writing!

  2. Alex

    Reading this made me remember why thinking and writing means so much to me – thankyou. That ‘electric cerebral rush’ you speak of is what matters; that, and the chance to put some understanding back into the world, to set one’s thoughts free.
    Alex 🙂


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